The value and importance of the individual are rapidly decreasing and the chances of his being heard will vanish more and more.
This process of deterioration will be long and painful, but I fear it is inevitable. Yet in the long run it will prove to be the only way by which man’s lamentable unconsciousness, his childishness and individual weakness, can be replaced by a future man, that knows that he himself is the maker of his fate and that the State is his servant and not his master (Jung 4).
In this passage, Carl Jung is describing the state of things before, during, and after the beginning of World Wars I and II. This long process of decay is still ongoing, which is very troubling to me, for I fear for the future of my children and grandson. My generation has continued to deny goodness and love for their fellow humans, but there is arising a people who see the world in a different light. The hope of my generation is with them.
Jung says the first World War “released the hidden power of evil” (Jung 5) into the world. Prior to 1914, intellectuals believed the evils of war had been overcome after the Enlightenment, that we were rational beings who had learned more logical and reasonable ways of living. According to Jung, however, this war was “released by the accumulation of unconscious masses and their blind desires” (ibid.).
In the years prior to 1914, the conscious mind of mankind became severed from what Jung calls “the natural laws of human existence” (ibid.). With the rise of capitalism, the masses became dehumanized slaves of industrialization. To live and work, they were herded together into large urban areas, and paid less than living wages, allowing the fruits of their labors to flow into the hands of rich elites. In the 1920’s, so-called “public relations,” which consisted of depth psychology converted into slick advertising to deceive the masses into spending what little they did earn on products they didn’t need. Lies, deception, and dehumanization led Westerners to discard the inner life of imagination, emotion, contemplation, otherwise known as the things of the soul. They centered their lives so much on materialism and capitalism, they were unaware of the pressures building within their unconscious minds. For the German people, and the world, in the 1920’s and 1930’s, this would be cataclysmic. They had no knowledge of how to integrate the awful eruption when it did flood their consciousness. The old ways of the soul were gone, superseded by scientism and capitalism. These left the soul of Western humanity destitute. Nietzsche had declared God to be dead, so there was no help from religion. The West was thrown into a maelstrom of evil. The social processes that once mitigated the ravenous unconscious drives of power, greed, and destruction had been obliterated.
Things have changed little in our era. Greed, war, racism, and just general malevolence still rule the day. But there is a mass movement that is just beginning to arise. A group of younger citizens are speaking out against tyrannical forces that work night and day to keep our world enslaved. They are becoming more aware of mankind’s Shadow and desire to meet it head on. The dark nature of humanity will need to be integrated somehow. These younger ones have seen the evil and revolted against it. If this continues, there is great hope for our planet.
Jung, C.G. Essays on Contemporary Events, the Psychology of Nazism. trans. R.F.C.Hull. Princeton: Bollingen, 1954.
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